I've now been diagnosed, with affection, by my friends as a Horror Junkie.
It wasn't always like this but these days I find I'm always on the hunt for the next big scare, that unsuspecting plot twist, an intoxicating adrenaline 'hit'. Where most people aim to avoid that 'fight or flight' feeling, I'm absolutely hooked. It's true, there was a stage where the odd rom-com could satisfy me but not now. Not anymore. So when Create50 invited me to proofread and correct errors in their latest book, Twisted50 Vol 2, it was a no-brainer.
More than just my next fix, I was inspired. I could expose myself to tonnes of new and exciting ideas and authors; whilst simultaneously quenching that thirst for more adrenaline pumping material.
My task was simple: read through each story and fix, repair and rearrange any grammatical errors. More often than not the mistakes I came across were tiny and easily missed, so it was important
for me to register every, last, word. Even at the moment where I found myself genuinely too scared or repulsed to read on - read it I must.
A lot of my corrections were really just spelling errors or disputes between English and American grammar. Every now and then I may have found a lonely speech mark missing a partner or some unusual line spacing. There is, of course, the classic THEIR vs THEY'RE replacement and, very sparingly, capital letters removed from the opening word in a sentence or characters name. These are fairly easy fixes for a fresh pair of eyes tasting the goods for the first time. All are trickier spots perhaps, for anyone extremely familiar with their own work.
The most important thing to look out for was the general flow of the story. Sometimes you are interrupted mid sentence by an unusual tense change or too many commas. A sentence badly hung can really eject the reader from the story. They may miss the horror in it; a crying shame after all that work to fall at the last hurdle, don’t you think? Much like ordering a Bloody Mary and being met with a Virgin, minus the celery salt too. I am left unsatiated and thus my quest for the perfect thrill continues.
After proofing each story for all of the above, I like to start again, from the top. I allow myself to get wrapped up in the story and just like any true Junkie, hope to welcome the feeling of slowly rising tension as the suspense envelops me.
It is true that the scariest stories to proof tend to be the ones with the least mistakes and the strongest through-line. They are also the ones where you don't see the scare coming. Perfectly spelt, punctuated and crafted. Well-timed twists. You glide through the sentences with ease and are inevitably lulled into a false sense of security. Then suddenly BAM it's too late. You are already midway through a sentence that will consequently give you nightmares for weeks... Yes! That's the good stuff! I read a lot of that in this volume.
Proofreading during my regular commute morphed my often turbulent and chaotic journey into the best 40 minutes of each day. I found myself eager to cram between the sweaty suited businessmen and crying babies. Anything to get another taste of the gory, thrilling and often gut wrenching prose on offer. Unaware of my surroundings; I would often vocalise my disgust at the more gory sequences. Loudly. One author's depiction of maggot-chewed eyeballs was too much for me to hold in, much to the discomfort of the aforementioned businessmen. But as much as I yelped and writhed convincingly in shock and disgust and sometimes even physical pain; I was secretly loving every word of it.
For those reading this looking to participate in future Twisted volumes, step right up! There are still so many of us Junkies out here and god only knows what will happen if we don't keep our thirst quenched! If you really are looking to give us a thrill, please do bare in mind my above advice. Are there any fellow addicts looking for their next strong horror fix? Friends, you've hit the jackpot! You are guaranteed to find the perfect cocktail of discomfort and pleasure among these, deeply, Twisted Fifty.